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Good fences make good (a.., p.1
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       Good Fences Make Good (A Dan Wilder Short Story), p.1

           Chris O'Grady
 
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Good Fences Make Good (A Dan Wilder Short Story)
Good Fences Make Good

  By

  Chris O'Grady

  * * * * *

  Good Fences Make Good

  Copyright © 2010 by Chris O'Grady

  The author retains copyrights to the work of fiction contained herein.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

  For information address: Twit Publishing PO Box 720453 Dallas, Texas 75206.

  The following work is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  * * * * *

  This story was originally published in Twit Publishing Presents: PULP! Summer/Fall 2011.

  * * * * *

  Good Fences Make Good

  By Chris O’Grady

  Wilder was a few minutes early. He locked his car, left it in the parking field, and crossed to the public park between the parking area and Main Street. Going in under the trees, he got out of the afternoon sun and cut across the park to a bus stop. Drogo the fence wasn’t in front of the drugstore across the way.

  Wilder waited on the nearest park bench. When Drogo didn’t show after five minutes, Wilder changed benches. This time he sat on one back under the trees a ways. When Drogo finally turned up, he was half an hour late.

  Wilder stayed where he was, watching Drogo and looking over everyone in the vicinity. If Drogo had been on time, Wilder would have gone right over to him, collected his cut for the hot ice, and been on his way. But Drogo hadn’t been on time.

  Warily, Wilder checked out the scene, trying to see if anything looked out of line. It wouldn’t be the first time a scared fence turned a client over to the law, and Drogo was the kind who scared easily.

  Traffic passed both ways in the sunny roadway. Afternoon shoppers kept the opposite sidewalk busy. Drogo looked up and down the street and across at the park, where Wilder sat concealed, back under the trees. He looked jumpy. Drogo couldn’t seem to stand in the same place for more than a couple of seconds at a time.

  Drogo wore a dark brown straw fedora with a narrow brim and a wide band of a lighter shade of brown. Under his gray sharkskin suit he had on an open at the neck Hawaiian sport shirt that showed a white T-shirt tucked in close to his plump tanned neck. His pointed brown and white shoes kept shifting on the sidewalk as he turned to look this way, then that way. Finally he walked over to the drug store entrance and peered in at whoever was inside to see if Wilder was in there. He was still bending into the doorway out of the hot sidewalk sun, squinting in at the people at the lunch counter, when Wilder came up behind him.

  “All set?” Wilder asked quietly.

  Drogo jumped, turned, saw who it was, and looked relieved. Trying to smile, he stammered, “Jeez, you surprised me.”

  “Yeah,” Wilder said absently, “slip me the take.”

  Drogo’s eyes shifted.

  “Not here,” he murmured. “Let’s get around the corner.” He turned and walked off, taking quick steps.

  Annoyed, Wilder stared after him. Following Drogo, he caught up with him as he turned the nearby corner.

  “Why? What’s the big production? If you peddled the ice, you’ve got my part. If you didn’t, hand it over and I’ll fade and try someone else.”

  Drogo kept walking swiftly along the quiet sunny street. Reaching out, Wilder took Drogo’s arm, stopped him, and spun him around.

  “What’s with you, man?”

  “Don’t, don’t,” Drogo said, looking down at Wilder’s big hands. His eyes blinked rapidly, as if he were already closing them just before he got hit.

  “Drogo,” Wilder murmured, “I don’t like this.”

  Drogo swallowed, realized that Wilder wasn’t going to hit him, and calmed down some. Sighing, he hesitated, looking past Wilder at Main Street.

  “Wilder, I’m sorry. They made me do it this way.”

  “Who made you do it what way?” Wilder growled irritably. “This graft is between you and me, nobody else.”

  Drogo edged back a little. Wilder heard a step on the sidewalk behind him and turned.

  “Easy!” the man said.

  Wilder thought it was a nice quiet spot. They were just far enough from the busier street for anything to happen, and for Drogo and this pale, thin-faced specimen to get clear afterward.

  “Easy it is,” Wilder said, thinking this was why Drogo had delayed the contact for a half-hour. This gun type had wanted to eyeball Wilder before closing in on him.

  “They just want to see you,” the pale man said.

  “Who’s they? And who are you?” Wilder asked, keeping his voice polite.

  “This is Mr. Raney,” Drogo said, off to one side now.

  Wilder nodded. “Mr. Raney.”

  The pale man nodded. His lips were thin, his eyes lashless, his face without expression, his hat yellow straw, his shirt white, and his tie mauve. The rest of him was neat and easily forgotten.

  “Who just wants to see me?” Wilder asked.

  Raney shrugged. “The people who run things here.”

  Wilder glanced at Drogo. Wilder’s eyes and face didn’t reveal a thing. He looked away from Drogo and back at Raney.

  “Why?”

  “They like to know who they’re doing business with,” Raney replied. His words were spoken softly, lazily, as if he were being patient, but his muddy eyes were beginning to appear not so patient. His face had a look of concealed contempt, not too well concealed now.

  Raney’s right hand was in the side pocket of his suitcoat, but the pocket held more than his hand. Wilder wondered if it held knucks or a handgun. He decided not to find out, yet.

  “They just want to see me?” Wilder asked. “And then I can go?”

  “That’s it.”

  “Sure,” Drogo put in. “I told them you don’t work that way, but they insisted.”

  Wilder didn’t look at Drogo, just nodded slowly, making himself look as if he was thinking it over. Then he shrugged and grinned.

  “Okay,” he said, “no problem.”

  “That’s the way, Wilder,” Drogo said, looking relieved. “They’re all right. You’ll see.”

  “This way,” Raney said, nodding back toward Main Street. “The car’s across in the lot, there.”

  Wilder didn’t hang back. He went past Raney. Drogo came up and walked on Wilder’s left. Raney stayed a little behind, on Wilder’s right. Wilder knew he would.

  They crossed Main Street with the traffic light, Drogo chattering away, Wilder occasionally responding, Raney silent. Traversing the little park, they emerged onto the path skirting the far side of the park, next to the public parking area.

  “Over this way,” Raney said, turning toward the distant railroad station at the south end of the park.

  They walked halfway to the station in pleasant tree shade before Drogo turned into the parking field and went up to a dark green Chrysler. Raney handed him car keys. Drogo went around the front of the car to the driver’s side, opened the door there, slid behind the wheel, and leaned across to open the front door on the other side. Then he reached over the seatback and pulled up the lock-knob on the back door of the passenger side.

  “Sit in front,” Raney said, “next to him.”

  Wilder nodded, went between the Chrysler and the car parked beside it, got in, slammed the door shut beh
ind him and ran the window down. Raney stayed close behind him, waited until Wilder closed his door, and started past, reaching with his free hand for the back door handle. Wilder shoved his door open as Raney went past.

  The door walloped Raney’s right side and shoulder.

  Reaching through the open car window, Wilder grabbed Raney’s tie, and hauled him into the window opening. Raney hit the door, slamming it shut. His eyes looked enormous. His face was as white as paper. He spat words in a spittle-whisper, strangling from the tie Wilder was pulling tighter around his neck.

  Wilder clipped him with his left fist. Raney’s head snapped up. Wilder gave him another one.

  Raney’s right hand stuck a short-barrelled .38 revolver through the window. Wilder had to grab it with his hitting hand. Raney hadn’t cocked the gun, so Wilder just clamped his hand over the top of the thing, held the cylinder to keep it from turning, and prevented Raney from getting off a shot.

  Hooking his thumb behind the hammer before Raney’s thumb could pull it back and fire, Wilder
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